cover image Naked Babies

Naked Babies

Anna Quindlen. Penguin Putnam, $24.95 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-670-86880-3

In this intriguing book, Kelsh, a partner in the communications firm Kelsh Wilson Design, and Quindlen (Object Lessons) capture the essence of naked babyhood--Kelsh in exquisite black-and-white photographs of dozens of babies, Quindlen in an elegant essay in which she muses about ""the sheer beauty of their baby bodies."" Kelsh's pictures, often of simple details--hands, feet, ears, eyes, bottoms, navels--reveal the miracles of baby skin, tiny fingers and toes, limbs contorted into acrobatic poses. His babies are not merely cute but like soft sculptures, and they revel in their nakedness: one intently studies his penis, another claps his hands as he pees onto the ground. Quindlen's essay, which is perceptive and moving without being sentimental, is based on the premise that ""babies are meant to be naked, as surely as they are meant to be nurtured and loved,"" and it perfectly complements the photographs. Her own children are well past the baby stage, but she remembers all about babies, from birthing room to first steps, and she concludes, ""The strangest thing about having babies is that before you know it you have adults."" (Nov.)